More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
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Homeowners insurance is financial protection for you, your home, and your assets in the event of a covered loss. A fence can also offer a form of protection for your home — whether it's to keep intruders or unwanted critters out. But what happens if your fence is damaged? Can homeowners insurance pay to repair or replace your damaged fence, too?
Homeowners insurance coverage is not limited to just your home, it extends to the valuables and belongings inside and outside of your home and the structures surrounding it, like your fence. That said, your homeowners insurance doesn’t always cover your fence. Whether or not your fence is covered will depend on what caused the damage in the first place.
A standard homeowners insurance policy typically covers your fence if it is damaged by a sudden peril, like storms, fallen trees, or vandalism
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover your fence if its damaged due to maintenance issues, like termite damage or general wear and tear over the years
Before filing a claim for fence damage, consider your deductible. If your deductible is more expensive than the fence repairs, it would be cheaper to pay out of pocket
With a standard homeowners policy, fences are protected from the same perils, or hazards, as the rest of your home. Your fence is protected under the other structures coverage component of homeowners insurance. Other structures coverage protects structures separated from the dwelling, like a detached garage, shed, or, in some cases, an in-ground pool.
A standard homeowners insurance policy will cover disasters like fires and storms, or malicious acts like vandalism. That means a standard homeowners insurance policy will pay for damages when you file a claim if your fence is:
Burned by a fire
Struck by lightning
Blown down by a windstorm
Damaged by hail
Stolen by your neighbors
Vandalized or graffitied
There are a few other common scenarios in which your fence could be damaged, like by falling objects, but whether or not the fence would be covered is circumstantial.
Damage incurred by fallen objects is typically covered by your homeowners insurance policy. However, if the fallen tree originated on your property, then whether or not the fence is covered depends on why the tree fell. For example, if a thunderstorm or fire caused the tree to fall, then your fence is covered.
But if the tree fell because of rot or age then homeowners insurance won’t cover the fence damage. That’s because homeowners insurance excludes coverage for maintenance, general wear and tear, and aging. Tree rot may be considered as preventable damage because it happens over time, and insurers consider it your responsibility to take care of the general upkeep of your property.
Perils like floods or earthquakes are also excluded, so if the tree falls on your fence because of an earthquake or flood, you’d need a separate earthquake endorsement or flood insurance policy to cover it.
If the fallen tree was on your neighbor’s property, you should still file a claim with your insurance company according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). If the neighbor is accountable for the damage, your insurance company will try to collect money from their provider to pay for the loss or out-of-pocket expenses. In some situations, the insurance provider may even cover the tree removal.
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While homeowners insurance will cover the fence in the event of a vehicle collision, you may want to file a claim with the driver’s car insurance instead. After the accident, call the police and exchange insurance information with the driver. Since they’re at fault, they’ll pay you for the damages through the liability component of their car insurance.
If the fence-wrecking motorist doesn’t have car insurance or can’t pay you for the loss, you can still file a claim with your homeowners insurance. Just be aware that you’ll have to pay your deductible toward repairs. Your insurer may also raise your premiums down the road.
A standard homeowners insurance covers wind damage, however, if you live in a coastal area wind and hail damage may be excluded from your policy. If that’s the case, you likely need to purchase windstorm insurance.
If a tornado or hurricane blows your fence down, your homeowners insurance (or windstorm insurance if you have a policy) can pay to replace it. That said, just like when a tree falls on your fence, if the fence was already rotting and a strong breeze simply knocked it over, your insurance may not cover you, since the actual damage to the fence happened over time.
Other structures like your fence are typically insured for up to 10% of your dwelling coverage limit (the overall amount of coverage you selected for the house). For example, say your house is insured for $500,000, then you’d have a $50,000 claim limit for other structures like your fence.
Most homeowners insurance companies will reimburse you the replacement cost value (RCV), or the full cost of repairs, for other structures like your fence, so make sure you get a proper estimate for the damage. But some policies may only pay the actual cash value (ACV), or the cost of replacement after depreciation. You can check the declarations page of your policy to confirm. Your declarations page is usually the first page of your policy, and it tells you important details like the reimbursement method, as well as your coverage amount and deductible.
When filing a claim for fence damage, you should keep in mind that you’ll have to pay your deductible first. If your deductible is more expensive than the fence damage, it would be cheaper just to pay to replace the fence out-of-pocket. For example, if your deductible is $500, and the fence damage only costs $300 to fix, you’re better off not filing a claim.
You can’t file a claim for fence damage if it wasn’t caused by one of your policy’s covered perils. Among the more standard exclusions are mold, termite damage, wear and tear and neglect. For example, if your fence is rotting or being eaten by termites, it would not be covered since both of those circumstances are considered preventable maintenance issues.
As we mentioned, some natural disasters like floods and earthquakes are excluded from homeowners insurance and require their own separate insurance policies, as can hurricanes depending on your state and provider.
Elissa Suh is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has researched and written extensively about finance and insurance since 2019, with an emphasis in esate planning and mortgages. Her writing has been cited by MarketWatch, CNBC, and Betterment.
Elissa has a B.A. in Film Studies from Barnard College.
Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto and renters insurance. She previously worked as a freelance writer and copywriter, and has been writing about insurance since 2019. Kara is an expert at making complicated topics like property insurance simple to understand. Her work can be found in Teen Vogue, The Culture Crush, and more.
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